University of Notre Dame

Meet Our Scholars

Tiffany Rojas
Hometown: Duncanville, TX
Intended Major: Physics

Tiffany is a first-year student from Duncanville, Texas who currently resides in Breen-Phillips Hall. Her main interests include human rights activism and radiocarbon dating. To explore these interests, she researches in the nuclear physics lab on campus. Additionally, Tiffany serves on the executive board of 1stG ND, works the Spring Visit Weekend Freshman Committee, and is a member of the Engineering and Science Pathways to Success Program.
Tiffany believes her time in the Balfour Program has given her the ability to navigate University resources effectively, as well as the ability to balance her schedule well.

Mario Markho
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Intended Major: Neuroscience/Pre-Med; Minor in Peace Studies

Mario is a first-year student from Toledo, Ohio, who currently resides in Keough Hall. He uses his free time to participate in the Building Bridges Mentoring Program, as well as Keough Hall Mass events. Mario plans to join a psychology research lab.
The Balfour Program has not only allowed him to transition into college easily, but also helped him to enjoy the process. Furthermore, he’s been able to learn about social issues plaguing the world today and how he can combat them in daily life.

Marcos Salamanca
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Intended Major: Computer Science

Marcos is a first-year student from San Antonio, Texas, who currently resides in Knott Hall. He hopes to ultimately become a software developer, and is working with a group on campus to develop a mobile app for the sleep company, Somni. Additionally, he is a part of the Knights of Columbus, Latino Honor Society, and the Right to Life Club. He has spent a great deal of time volunteering in the South Bend community at the Food Bank as well as Unity Gardens.
For Marcos, the Balfour Program gave him the proper preparation and confidence to succeed at the University of Notre Dame. Before attending the summer program, he confesses he was nervous about how difficult an education at Notre Dame would be. However, after the summer program he says he was ready to take on the challenge. There is no better way to prepare for college than by attending the summer program. More importantly, Marcos notes, “The Balfour Program helped me gain a family in a place that is over 20 hours away from home. During the summer program I got to know many great Balfours, who consisted of both first-years like me and upperclassmen. Now hardly a day goes by where I do not encounter a Balfour, and I am glad of it.”

Cristina Chavez
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Intended Major: Mechanical Engineering

Cristina is a first-year student from Dallas, Texas, currently residing in Cavanaugh Hall. She hopes to study mechanical engineering, and is working most actively with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Through SWE, she has gained a trusted advisor via Big Sis-Little Sis, and the chance to become closer with the engineering community. Cristina also is an avid ND sports fan, and especially loves cheering on the ND basketball team.
Through the Balfour Program, Cristina notes that she gained a network of friends and mentors she knows will support her over the next several years at Notre Dame. She also is thankful that the summer component of the program allowed her to get her “month of awkward adjusting to college over with before college actually started.”

Godsee Joy
Hometown: Silver Springs, MD
Intended Major: Economics

Godsee is a first-year student from Silver Springs, Maryland, currently living in McGlinn Hall. In addition to school work, Godsee acts as a member of Students Consulting for Nonprofit Organizations, Student International Business Council, and the Economics Club. Additionally, she works with BuildOn, an international organization seeking to break the cycle of poverty through service and education. She hopes to continue participating in cultural events hosted by the Asian American Association during the next three years.
Godsee’s participation in Balfour has “provided me with a great networking opportunity. I arrived on campus having already developed relationships with students in my year, upperclassmen and professors. I discovered resources – from departments, to research and grant opportunities – all before even starting the semester. The Balfour Program also exposed me to the South Bend community and the importance of getting involved beyond the Notre Dame campus.”

Cecily Castillo
Hometown: Buda, Texas
Intended Major: Chemical Engineering

Cecily is a first-year student from Buda, Texas, currently residing in Ryan Hall. Outside of the classroom, Cecily spends her time tutoring elementary school students at La Casa de Amistad in South Bend, as well as participating as a member of the Ballet Folklorico Azul y Oro dance company.
Cecily’s experience with Balfour allowed her to gain “a support network of students similar to myself that I know will help me to achieve my goals.”

Jessica Deas
Hometown: Chico, California
Intended Major: History and Business

Jessica is a first-year student from Chico, California, currently living in Flaherty Hall. In addition to studying, Jessica works as a student manager for Notre Dame’s swim team, and absolutely loves it. In the future she hopes to join the club swim team on campus.
Jess’ Balfour experience left her with “ knowledge of campus, a group of great friends, some idea of what to expect when I started college and a fantastic way to receive support.”

Charlie Ortega Guifarro
Hometown: Miami, Florida
Intended Major: Film, Television, and Theater

Charlie is a first-year student from Miami, Florida, who currently lives in Keenan Hall. Outside of the classroom, Charlie is very active in the Notre Dame community. He serves as a member of the Student Union Board (SUB), as well as a member of the Student Coalition for Immigration Advocacy (SCIA). Additionally, he is a part of both the Latino Honor Society, the Latino Student Alliance, and 1stG ND – a club specifically for first-generation college students on Notre Dame’s campus.
When asked about the benefits of the Balfour Program, Charlie notes the best part for him was all of the great friendships he built.

Aluel Doldol
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
Intended Major: Political Science

Aluel is a first-year student from Denver, Colorado, who currently lives in Pasquerilla West Hall. She is active in the South Bend community through her volunteer work at the Robinson Community Learning Center twice a week. She hopes to eventually go to law school.
When asked about the benefits of the Balfour Program, Aluel explains that it gave her a support network. She also “gained some friends in the program. It is always nice to see B-H people around campus.”

Emmalyse Daniels
Hometown: Covington, Kentucky
Intended Major: Psychology

Emma is a first-year student from Covington, Kentucky, currently living in Ryan Hall. Her main extracurricular activity consists of mentoring students through a program called Matriculate. Matriculate works towards helping low-income, high-achieving students apply to and attend our nation’s top universities. Additionally, Emma is passionate about volunteering in the community and works at South Bend’s Robinson Shakespeare Center while maintaining an on campus job in Ryan Hall as a Hall Steward.
When asked about how the Balfour Program has helped her college career so far, Emma explains that she has “gained a better sense of myself and my identity as well as great friends who I can call family. The Balfour community has served as a support system throughout my first semester. We have all been ready and willing to listen and give advice to each other.”

Victoria Yanez
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Indiana
Intended Major: Accountancy, ACMS

Tori is a first-year student from Fort Wayne, Indiana, currently living in Lewis Hall. During her free time, Tori enjoys volunteering at the Early Childhood Development Center on campus once a week. Additionally, she is also involved in recreational soccer and Undergraduate Women in Business.
When asked about the benefits of the program, Tori believes “the Balfour Program has connected me with a close group of individuals and friends who have a wide range of talents and interests. I have met such gifted people through the program over the summer and have gotten to know them so much better throughout the first semester. Through the follow-up course, I had the opportunity to listen to everyone’s thoughts and opinions about important issues on campus and in our lives.”

Jacob Chang
Hometown: Mililani, Hawai’i
Intended Major: Political Science and Peace Studies

Jake is a first-year student from Mililani, Hawai’i, currently living in Siegfried Hall. He plans to study political science and peace studies. While on campus, Jake is most actively involved with Hawai`i Club, Asian American Association, Latino Student Alliance, and Sueños Sin Fronteras,
Jake asserts that “Balfour was a great experience during the summer and, most importantly, allowed me to make a ton of friends and establish a support network to fall back on when the going gets tough.”

Natalie Rivas
Hometown: Carson, California
Intended Major: Chemical Engineering

Natalie is a first-year student from Carson, California, currently living in Welsh Family Hall. Her main interests involve working with the environment. She joined the Student Energy Board (SEB) in order to help Notre Dame with all of the differing aspects of energy on campus and in South Bend. Additionally, she is part of a research team that is trying to determine whether or not required national policies are have sufficient information in order to adapt to climate change. Natalie also hope to partake in lab research this semester focusing even more on the environment. She also serves as a member of Hall Council for her dorm (Welsh Family Hall) and as a Freshman Advisor for Society19, for which she writes and gives incoming and current students relatable and relevant information/articles.
Natalie believes “The Balfour Program thoroughly prepared me for the college course load. I never had intense courses that stimulated all of the work and independent studying that I had to do for college. Also, I met many people that helped me prepare for the very different culture here in Indiana (compared to all of the diversity present back home in Los Angeles). I have also found an identity with myself as I have grown closer and appreciated my culture and roots more while still being open to new ideas.”

Savanna Morgan
Hometown: Forney, Texas
Intended Major: Music

Savanna is a first-year student from Forney, Texas, currently living in Lewis Hall. She is a proud member of the Voice Performance Major in the Notre Dame Department of Music, which entails performing in opera, recital, and masterclasses. She also co-host a radio show on 88.9 WSND (tune in on Monday nights at 10 pm for the First Year Blues Review!), and plans to research the intersection of female blues artists and feminism.
Through her participation in the program, Savanna notes that she has, “gained a knowledge on all the opportunities in service, research, and leadership that Notre Dame has to offer.”

Holden Perrelli
Hometown: North Haven, Connecticut
Intended Major: FTT

Holden is a first-year student from North Haven, Connecticut, currently living in Siegfried Hall. He hopes to pursue broadcast journalist, and has begun work for Fighting Irish Media on campus and produces his own podcast about Notre Dame athletics.
Holden notes that the Balfour Summer Insitute allowed him to strengthen his time management skills, which have proved invaluable during a busy college semester.

Monika Fanous
Hometown: Bayonne, New Jersey
Intended Major: Finance

Monika is a first-year student from Bayonne, New Jersey, currently living in Farley Hall. While on campus, Monika serves as a member of the Wall Street Club, Smart Woman Securities, and Matriculate which is an advising fellowship to low income-high achieving high school students applying to college. She is most interested in global markets and investment banking.
When asked what she gained through her participation in the Balfour program, Monika notes that she has, “gained many things such as knowledge, interpersonal skills, but above all I have gained a family.”

William Kuang
Hometown: Lynbrook, New York
Intended Major: Electrical Engineering

Will is a first-year student from Lynbrook, New York, who currently resides in Keenan Hall. He is active in the ND Robotics Club, passionate about Sustainability on campus, and participates in the Asian American Association.
Will’s Balfour summer gave him, “A network of support and skills to adapt to college life.”

Tristen Lewandowski
Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas
Intended Major: Chemical Engineering

Tristen is a first-year student from Corpus Christi, Texas, who currently resides in Keough Hall. On campus, Tristen is a member of the saxophone section in the Band of the Fighting Irish, both in marching and concert. In addition, he is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and Engineers Without Borders. Tristen hopes to attend medical school following his degree, so his plans for future research and volunteer work involve biochemistry and medicine, respectively.
His participation in the Balfour program, “connected me with people who have become very good friends and classmates while preparing me for college life before the fall semester began. In addition, I was made aware of the vast opportunities available to me as a Notre Dame student that I can pursue over the next four years.”

Kylie VanArsdale
Hometown: Mesa, Arizona
Intended Major: Political Science

Kylie is a first-year student from Mesa, Arizona, who currently lives in McGlinn Hall. Her interests in Political Science has encouraged her to consider a minor in Constitutional Studies and she hopes to utilize the University’s Washington Program in order to both study and intern for a semester in the nation’s capital. Kylie hopes that experience will cement her aspirations for law school after graduation. Additionally, Kylie plans to study abroad in London or Rome, the latter for which she is taking courses in Latin and Italian.

Kylie’s Balfour experience allowed her to gain, “early familiarity with the Notre Dame campus, a helpful glimpse into college life and the adjustments that all first-years must make, and a great community within which I feel both comfortable as myself and challenged to grow.”

John O’Brien
Hometown: Bolingbrook, Illinois
Intended Major: Management Consulting, Economics

John is a first-year student from Bolingbrook, Illinois, currently living in Duncan Hall. On campus, John is very active in the Student International Business Club and Investment club. He also spends a lot of time with his dorm community through participation on his Interhall Football team.
His summer experience served as, “A great foundation of friends, resources, and general knowledge of what the college lifestyle was going to be like. The summer was great experience that allowed me to experience what the next 4 years were going to be like.”

Paulina An
Hometown: Walnut, California
Intended Major: Science Business

Paulina is a first-year student from Walnut, California, currently living in Lewis Hall. She is currently pursuing the medical field, and therefore is involved with the pre-med club. Additionally, she really like working with kids. For that reason, she volunteers at the daycare center on campus to care for children while their parents work.
Paulina’s Balfour summer gave her the opportunity to build friendships and gain prior knowledge of the campus before actually starting school.

Donna Hoang
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Intended Major: Biochemistry

Donna is a first-year student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , currently living in Howard Hall. Her interest in biochemistry has cultivated a desire to research health care policies on a global scale to see parallelism, including the correlation between poverty and health care accessibility. Also, she is interested in cancer research (especially ones using miRNA), and is hoping to join a lab that allows her to learn more about it.
Donna’s summer experience gave her an ability to gain better knowledge of how to begin exploring research opportunities, but more importantly she was able to gain a strong support system with her fellow students.